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It is a cold and blustery first of December, with two inches of frozen snow on the ground; the wind is howling, slicing and transmogrifying through the house's secret crevasses and minute leaking-holes, causing the susurrus of draperies and the bitter rattling of loose casings. Taking a month off from 100 Words was, if nothing else, instructive. It's a pervasive little habit, one that crawls into your head and comfortably nests. Although I didn't post any of them, and I shall never share them, I still continued producing my 100 Words. Just not every day. And for my eyes only.
I finally saw "Lord of the Rings" on DVD, and I can't make up my mind how I feel about it. Some of the scenery was really beautiful; in contrast, some of the computer-generated fakery was so blatant it was jarring. I'm not sure I like the increasing use of computer imagery in films, but I cannot exactly pinpoint why.
I heard Frank McCourt on NPR express the notion that because we give our children everything they want, we deny them the opportunity to dream.
At what price instant gratification? Do we gain more than we lose, or vice versa?
It astonishes me how many guys at work avail themselves of the restroom and then fail to wash their hands afterwards. They finish taking their steamy, fragrant dumps or draining the ol' anaconda, and then indulge in a muffin, licking crumbs off their urine-stained fingers, or—worse—shake hands with a visiting customer, a complete innocent. "Don't shake hands with him!" I want to shout to the unsuspecting customer. "Just wave!" I witnessed two offenders today, and spent the remainder of the day grousing in silent, hygienic outrage. It wasn't until much later that I realized my fly was open.
Dennis and David are flying up from Dahlonega tonight; we'll be having dinner together on Friday. I miss having them around, especially this time of year. Denny and David and David and I used to have the best Christmas parties—just the four of us. We would take turns hosting, and each year the dinner prepared would be just a bit more elaborate and elegant than the year before. We would drink cabernet and exchange gifts under the lights of the tree, talking quietly and laughing loudly. Sharing wonderful warm moments and tranquil dreams with dear friends. I'm really lucky.
I met my cousin's granddaughter last night for the first time, three month old Amelia. She's all pearly pink and staccato breaths, swirling feet and smiling innocence.
A. E. Houseman wrote a wonderful wee poem entitled Infant Innocence:
The Grizzly Bear is huge and wild;
He has devoured the infant child.
The infant child is not aware
It has been eaten by the bear.
Stephen Sondheim put it even more succinctly when he wrote "
Every knot was once straight rope.
" I held Amelia, she smelling powder fresh and baby-clean, and I wondered if I was ever once that shiningly pure.
My music collection is eclectic and, to some, incomprehensible. Tellingly, mine is heavier with male vocalists. Among my favorites are Vic Damone, Peter Gabriel, and Eminem. Did you ever think you'd see those three names in the same sentence? Oh, they connect, inexorably, brilliantly. It's because they all remind me of David: Damone's silky-smooth delivery, technically impeccable; Gabriel's earthy, gravelly, sweaty voice; and Eminem's impossibly hard-won, take-no-prisoners honesty, vibrantly swollen and raw. All smart and sexy. All that can stir and stun. All partially representative of My Guy, who was totally, achingly complicated. And I, unbelievably, within the same frame.
He was pleased that his name—Horace Ferris—had an appropriately toadified, simpering ring. Horace's chosen "Booger-Butt" (the person on the receiving end of a brown-nosing) was, naturally, his boss, a pompous windbag with pretentious flourishings. His obsequious behavior may have been annoying to his colleagues, but the affect rendered him otherwise innocuous. No one suspected his darker side, or that he, in true Norman Bates tradition, had committed matricide. No one suspected Horace when his boss mysteriously disappeared. In an attitude of relentless grief, Horace eventually moved to another city. Carefully, portentously selected his new Booger-Butt. And waited. Compliant.
I went to a Messiah Sing tonight with Bonnie, Ted, and Jake, the first one I've attended since David died. It used to be an annual event; one Christmas season David and I participated in four Sings. It was great fun to do it again. Ted and I sang first tenor—I struggled through some of the higher notes. I could hear Jake rumbling through second bass. Poor Jake—looking like a WWF refugee, he stands out like a sore thumb at these kind of events. I thought the usher was going to shit when Jake walked through the door.
My sister and I put up Mom's Christmas tree and related decorative miscellany yesterday. Everything looks nice, but it's an anemic imitation of what my Dad used to do. The entire house would be in festive make-over, storage rooms included. The dining room and living room ceilings would have criss-crossing, lighted garlands looping gracefully from them, bearing their own occasional ornamental baubles . The laurels would be strung in such a way as to draw the eye to The Tree. This all might sound overdone, but my Dad, with his artist's eye, was able to keep it tasteful and elegant.
One summer when I was eight years old I suffered from a spell of impetigo. It was a malicious little malady—festering, bleeding sores erupted all over my body like an overwrought case of stigmata. My older cousin Jack, nasty little wag that he was, informed the other neighborhood kids that I actually had leprosy. Naturally I was completely shunned by my friends, who would run away shrieking with terror whenever I inadvertently wandered into view. Jack even taught them to throw stones at me and shout “Unclean! Unclean!”
So anyway, today is my cousin Jack’s birthday. Happy birthday, Fuckface.
As little as ten years ago, it was a genuine event to spot a deer, even out here in the sticks of rural Massachusetts. Now they all but come up to the door looking for a hand out. We have a family of four (including the buck, sporting a magnificent eight-point rack) that come into the backyard looking for food, at all times of day. They seem unafraid of our comings and goings, and instead watch us with their large, peaceful eyes. One doe even marched boldly (desperately?) around to the front of the house and devoured our rhododendron bush.
"Easy on the eyes." It's a phrase I myself have used to describe a guy that I have found attractive. But I myself am not, in anyone's book, "easy on the eyes." I suppose this makes me "hard on the eyes?" "Painful on the eyes?" As much as I try to be a fully engaged, functioning human being, all the while shouldering this mantle of plainness, there is still not enough alcohol in the world that can numb me into acceptance of this simple fact about myself. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Beholding what? Insulting whose eye?
I had dinner this evening with David's brother Michael. It was the longest chunk of time I've had with Michael since David was dying. Michael spent a large portion of the evening lamenting over the wasted years he could have had with David, now forever lost. I reminded him that they certainly were not "wasted years"; during that time he helped raise two boys who could have turned out to be little Nazis like their mother but didn't because of his example. Truthfully, however, my words were hollow. I hope never to be burdened with that kind of unanswerable regret.
I was describing to my Mom last evening's dinner with Michael. She felt deeply empathic with Michael's state of mind, and seemed pleased with the words I chose to comfort him, until I got to the part about Linda. She bristled when I used the word "Nazi" to describe her. "You shouldn't bad-mouth Linda in front of Michael," she remonstrated. "Why not?" I countered. "HE knows she's a cunt!"
The "c" word. In front of my soon-to-be 81 year old mother. She didn't blink. "We're all diminished with thoughts like that." She's right, of course. Very Bob Cratchit of her.
It was the event of the season: Jesse Helms' Annual Christmas Gala! Upon arrival I took note of Jesse's attire—he was dressed as a kind of oversexed Mrs. Claus. He wore a red and white camisole trimmed with fur; a darling matching muff; a kinkily scarlet, enormous garter belt that somehow wrapped around and engulfed his considerable girth; and a pair of thigh-riding S&M boots with stiletto heels that he most certainly acquired during his romance with Vin Diesel. Bright red garland wrapped into a tower on his balding head, remaining miraculously upright, completed the impressive ensemble. I smiled.
Jesse's Gala 2.
"GIRLFRIEND!" Jesse fairly shrieked when he caught sight of me. Advancing forward, I noticed his smile was marred by something stuck between his teeth. I discreetly called his attention to it.
"Would you look at that?" he drawled loudly. "One of Denzel's pubes! I just finished up on him not five minutes ago." He then looked sadly at me. "I'm sorry to see you don't have a date."
I smiled coyly. "That's because the guy I've been seeing for the last month couldn't make it." Suddenly interested, Jesse asked who I was dating.
"Eminem," I responded proudly.
Jesse's Gala 3.
?!" Jesse shouted at me. "Are you
I shot back defensively, "Well, you're the one who always said that my ‘ex' Tom Cruise was whiter than Wonder bread! I thought I'd try out someone more controversial."
Jesse laughed. "But sweetheart, you're missing my meaning . . . I'm DELIGHTED that you're dating Eminem! You're finally dating a person of color! Now you can experience the thrill of having a ‘boy' as your Man!"
Ignoring to address the obvious, I responded, exasperated, "Jesse, you should have been a speech writer for Trent Lott!" He guffawed.
Jesse's Gala Conclusion.
Knowing I was dating Eminem, Jesse was suddenly gushing with questions. "What's he like in bed? Does he spank? Does he have tattoos not visible to the general public? Is he cut or uncut?"
"JESSE!" I cried out, embarrassed. Then I added quietly, appropriately demur, "Incredible, yes, yes, and ‘un'."
Jesse's eyes bulged and he screamed girlishly. Then he smiled at me, irises twinkling, and murmured affectionately, "Merry Christmas, you fucking faggot."
With the garland turban atop his head, and a tiny, pearly speck of Denzel's ejaculate in the corner of his mouth, he looked positively beatific.
(Further to 12/11 entry)
Last night, while extinguishing the electric Christmas candles on the sills, I was startled to see a face peering in the window. It was a deer, watching me intently. We stared at each other and then it sauntered off. Awakening hours later to go pee, I looked outside and saw, bathed in the bright full moonlight reflecting off the snow, fourteen deer meandering around the backyard! Using their hooves, they were digging up the ground, finding acorns or roots to feed upon. It was unbelievably magical—also a trifle scary. Think: swarm. Think: mob. Think: YIKES!
On my bookshelf: "Final Analysis" "Foucault's Pendulum" "Boy's Life" "Leaves of Grass" "Surfers of the Zuvuya" "When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals" "Running with Scissors" "The Oxford Book of Essays" "An Incomplete Education" "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" "Reunions" "As Summers Die" "Borrowed Time" "Travels with Lizabeth" "Phone Calls from the Dead" "Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery" "Endurance" "Jesus Through the Centuries" "The Wind in the Willows" "The Brothers Karamazov" "Naked" "Me Talk Pretty One Day" "Beowulf" "The Story of English" "It's Greek to Me!" "Sondheim & Co." "Bloom County Babylon" "On Writing Well" "The Chalice and the Blade"
With the advent of Rosie O'Donnell and
Will & Grace
, it's become rather hip to be gay, or at least to have a gay friend. Ten years ago I wished for this kind of grace, but... be careful what you wish for and all that. Homosexuals are experiencing more social acceptance for the wrong reasons, at least in part. Fashions fade. Respect and compassion for your fellow human counterparts does not. We are still perceived as something separate, alien entities that have only recently been given permission to share the planet. How ‘bout granting us a little bit more inclusion?
Nearing midnight. Arriving home satiated from delicious food and the warm, ethereal glow of quality time spent with good friends. Bonnie and Joe hosted their annual caroling party this evening. It's always memorable, but tonight was the perfect combination of people, singers all, voices coming together in such lovely harmony that it gave me goose bumps. Then we repaired back to the house, laughing happily, musing quietly, remembering respectfully. Glasses raised in David's memory. An audio tape was produced from a party past with him soloing "O Holy Night." His voice had a breathtaking clarity. We shed happy Christmas tears.
Living in this cramped in-law apartment precludes my having a Christmas tree this year—no place to put it. However, I did hang Christmas lights along one wall in a haphazard sort of way. It provides a somewhat festive atmosphere, in a psychotic, Boo Radley kind of way. I half expect the room to start spinning to the strains of a maniacal calliope. What is it with me when it comes to calliopes and clowns? For most they enchant and delight; but when I see a clown and hear a calliope, I think, "There's so much evil in the world…"
Big Jake, my straight friend who looks like an ex-Hell's Angel, sent me an e-mail with the words "The boy looks like you" and a provocative drawing attached. It's a Christmas Eve illustration, depicting a hot, hunky Santa, the way he might have looked in his mid-thirties, with a trim beard, wearing a sleeveless tee, displaying his ripped, muscled physique. Partially from behind we see a young man/boy, wearing a Union suit, drop seat partially agape, insouciantly dangling a teddy bear behind his back, shyly watching Santa. The caption reads "May your stocking be stuffed by Santa with care." Woof!
Let nothing you dismay…
But I am deeply dismayed, this Christmas 2002. Living with a presidential administration that is all but frothing at the mouth, eager to wage war with an enemy who the CIA reluctantly admits would not be inclined to use their weapons unless provoked, leaves me silent and shaken. Self-righteous fucks who won't embrace the concept of "Peace on Earth"…
I need to focus on the immediacy of Now, and what I have to be thankful for: family and friends; good health (knock wood); a life so far relatively well lived.
O tidings of comfort and joy…
I turn into a real curmudgeon the day after Christmas, and digging out from last night's 14 inches of snowfall doesn't help. I don't want to see decorations or lights anymore, or hear any music even remotely Yuletide related. It's partially due to post-holiday blues, but it's also because the insanity isn't quite over yet: there's the most overrated day of the year looming ahead, large and inexorable—fucking New Year's Eve. I went to the supermarket today and the place looked like it had been looted. The disarray and the meager supplies seemed proper and appropriate to my mood.
Among the many DVDs I received for Christmas is the ethereal "Edward Scissorhands." Although I like most of Tim Burton's films, this one is Burton at his most bizarrely, comically humane. I especially love the image of Dianne Wiest as the hilariously plucky Avon lady, venturing outside the sherbet-colored houses of her kitschy planned neighborhood to peddle her wares at the doorstep of the gloomy castle towering dolorously in its background, and discovering the quiet, gentle heart within. Although admittedly uneven, I cherish this film; the opening credits, set against Danny Elfman's eerily haunting score, always gives me the chills.
I have two cats, Chloe and Cheyenne. My Mom thinks their names are Cleo and Shanghai.
"Did you name them after that lovely tarot-reading psychic who sings ska? And that funny movie with Luke… somebody?"
"It was Luke Wilson's brother, Owen, that's in the ‘funny movie', Ma. Luke is the one that had a guest appearance on that episode of
that you thought was so clever, remember? About the vampires?"
"Oh right! And he fell in love with Minnie Haha who had his deceased wife's heart transplanted into her."
"Shady Pines, Ma…"
"Cleo is such a pretty name."
Some Favorite Movie Lines: "Drop that cannon!" "Well, I'm sorry Wendy, but I just don't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die." "I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg." "I am Jack's raging bile duct." "Hey, Boo." "Stay close to ze candles . . . ze staircase can be treacherous." "Oh, Miss Charles, I just had to tell you how much I adored you in ‘Reflected Glory'!" "Be good." "Now you listen to me, Mr. Grand High Poobah of Upper Butt Crack! I'm just about half past give-a-shit with your fun and games!" "Sanctuary!"
My grandmother lived well into her nineties, and, as senility began to set in, life with her became—well, kinda' wacky. My Dad put up a rather primitive-looking bird feeder in the backyard. We later found Grammy kneeling rapturously in front it, believing she was in the presence of the Virgin Mary. (Why my non-catholic grandmother would experience a BVM sighting is anybody's guess.) When my parents made the difficult decision to place her into a nursing home, Grammy thought she was being spoiled at a posh salon, waited on hand and foot, happy as a clam at high tide.
A quiet evening alone, my choice. A glass of wine, a couple of movies, and a gallon of popcorn later. It is nearing midnight and I am supposed to be making my resolutions tonight. But I refuse to undertake changes for the sake of a day that symbolically, albeit tenuously, would seem to demand it. My attempts at self-improvement will come only when I feel mentally and emotionally and psychically prepared to see them through. Otherwise it's all a bluff, stroking synthetic cashmere.
‘Stroking synthetic cashmere'?!
Resolution # 1: Can you at least TRY to be less of a flamer??
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